I’ve experimented a bit, and for pure net video, a HTPC or HDMI-connected laptop works best for me. Console browsers are ultimately not workable and limited. As I understand them, Roku boxes (and the $100 set box genre) are client-based streamers and not able to handle everything you can get via a browser.
Just remember that Windows UI doesn’t play nicely with a 65" 1080p screen from 15’ away. If you mess around with the DPI settings, for instance, you end up screwing up programs not designed to accommodate; zooming in web browsers tends to mess with page layouts terribly, etc. If you don’t do this, text is oftentimes unreadable.
I do it, but it’s obnoxious. It’s my desktop just sitting next to the TV stand with an HDMI cable and a little batch file to switch the display and sound over to HDMI when I press a key-combo. I typically get everything setup except for pressing play on whatever I want to watch before doing the switch; trying to manipulate Windows at that size and distance is an absolute bitch.
My little Acer netbook can handle 1080i output, and it’s only 3 years old, so I’m betting you can get a decently old laptop to do the same.
As for the Netflix browser, we tend to make all of our selections on our laptops/devices, and then watch them from the queue on our Xbox. Selecting stuff to watch on the Xbox is not a good experience, and we avoid it at all costs.
Define “streaming internet”? If you mean Netflix/Hulu, any of a zillion devices will work way better than a laptop. If you mean random H-264/Xvid files that you’ve picked up on the internet (that Louis CK concert, for instance), there are lots of good DLNA client options. If you mean something else, then it gets ickier.
The pixel density I guess is the issue I have. I know I can physically output my laptop to the tv, but it doesn’t look great which is why i’m wondering if there are other dedicated options out there for browser streaming. (which I realize is a more accurate description of what I want)
Not really. Boxee and GoogleTV would do it, but everybody blocks them. Your best bet is to permanently store a cheap laptop or HTPC next to the TV and get a wireless mouse+keyboard. That way you can experiment with XBMC too, which I personally find very rewarding.
Any solution would have to be software (e.g., a made-for-TV browser): the pixel density issue is on the TV end. A better computer or video card won’t fix that. Most internet-ready hardware devices come with custom software solutions (e.g., Apple TV or Roku) meant to address some of this.
For a PC, Google hits this browser. I haven’t tried it. http://kylo.tv/. Google hits also showed that some services are already blocking this browser.
There shouldn’t be any issue with pixel density on the TV for video content – most people have TVs small enough, or far enough away from their normal sitting position, that they can’t fully resolve a 1080p signal anyway.
The problem is that most of the video content that you need to stream over a browser is really, really bad-quality. If it’s a high-quality video source, there’s already a way to watch it on th e360.
Right now I have an HTPC behind the TV that I control with a wireless keyboard/trackball combo. When I (or, more often, my 7 year old) want to watch something I have to manually navigate through Windows Explorer to find the file and play it with VLC.